Reigniting dreams of a brighter and AIDS-free future; the story of Sarah.

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Sarah, a 13-year-old girl from Gombekombe in Mazowe District, like many other girls in this farming and mining district, dropped out of school after completing her primary school. Despite the seemingly productive economic activity in this district, many families survive as artisanal miners or farm workers, obtaining merger earnings. After dropping out of school most engage in HIV high risk pathways as the either marry early/forced into marriages, obtain employment as house helpers or on the farms or sell sex mostly to artisanal miners. This combined with negative community norms and practices, put girls in a vicious cycle of poverty often with no window of opportunity to achieve their lives’ potential.

The DREAMS Program has launched a new partnership to spearhead community development that has re-defined community contribution to development. The DREAMS Program’s Community and School Education Partnership (COSEPA) is supporting government, the private sector and the community to be at the centre of addressing community challenges. Through COSEPA, stakeholders have come together to address challenges that deter girls, young women in particular and youth in general to obtain better education, health and well-being outcomes. In this partnerships, Chiefs are the custodians of development and therefore their assistants (Jinda RaMambo) are a vehicle for mobilizing stakeholders to address challenges.

As part of this role, Mr Oscry is playing a critical role in making sure that girls, young women and children enrol, retain, transition and perform well in education. Identification of children with difficulties related to education, health and well being is done through a Village Register. It is through this tool that Mr Oscry, supported Sara and her family to make the right decision for her to leave her employment as a maid in a neighbouring town and go back to school.

Keeping girls in school is at the centre of the COSEPA initiative, given its protective factor and positive outcomes for education, health and well-being. Sarah’s story is a testament to the transformative power of the DREAMS program in empowering adolescent girls and young women to overcome adversity and pursue their dreams. Sarah is one of over 65256 learners benefitting from the COSEPA model through the DREAMS-RISE program with support from PEPFAR through USAID.

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